Examples of SMART Goals for Writers

Writers, the best way to achieve your goal of getting published is to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely). These examples are based on my journey as a freelance writer and blogger…

Examples of SMART Goals for Writers

Writers Market

If you haven’t read any Writer’s Market books, get the 2015 Writer’s Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting PublishedYour first goal as a writer should be to learn as much as you can about how the writing and publishing business works.

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver.

Even when you’re pitching article ideas and trying to get published in magazines, you still need to tap into what you want to say, what you want to contribute to the world. Successful writers find the balance between giving editors and readers what they want, and writing what they need to say.

And, here are examples of smart writing goals for freelancers…

7 Examples of SMART Goals for Writers

Set financial goals – income per word or per article

My favorite writing goals involve money, money, money — because I love earning a living as a writer. Whether you’re a new or experienced freelance writer, set goals of, say, $2,500 per month or $500 per week. These types of goals work well for me — they’re specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely (SMART writing goals!).

Break your writing goals into smaller categories

As a full-time freelance writer, my goal is to earn $4,500 per month. I’ve broken that goal into smaller sections: $3,000 a month from my blogs, $500 from my freelance writing work, $700 a month from Suite 101, and a bit ‘o money from speaking engagements, blogging/writing panels, etc. You can break any writing goal into smaller categories — that’ s how you’ll succeed!

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Pitch three new query letters or articles a week

How do you get published? By pitching, pitching, pitching! The more you pitch, the more you’ll get published — and the closer you’ll get to achieving your goal of getting published. Set a specific freelance writing schedule, and stick to it. For instance, you could pitch article ideas on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It doesn’t matter what time; if you have a full or part-time job, pitch after you eat dinner or before you eat breakfast. I used to wonder if I should only send query letters to magazine editors at certain times, but have learned that any time is a good time to pitch an idea.

Set a per word financial goal, or a per article writing goal

Can you tell I’m determined to earn money as a freelance writer? Money money money 🙂  I charge $50 per hour or $1 per word.  I will write for fifty cents a word in special circumstances, such as for the first magazine that accepted one of my query letters and hired me to write an article. You don’t necessarily need to stick to your “smart writing goals”, but the more firmly implanted they are, the more likely you’ll achieve them.

Set blog or web writing goals

Creating different streams of income is a smart goal for writers. If your blog is monetized, writing a post every second day (or even one a week) can increase your earnings, create a strong writing platform, and improve your writing skills. If making money blogging isn’t your thing, try web writing for a site such as Suite101. I earn about $700 a month writing for Suite (but I’ve been writing weekly articles for four years now, so have a solid base). If you want to get published and make money as a freelance writer, set blog or web writing goals — they will strengthen your writing career.

Examples of SMART Writing Goals

“Examples of SMART Goals for Writers” image by Laurie

Send 10 recycled queries a week

If I don’t hear back from a magazine editor or publisher within four months, I consider that article idea up for grabs, and I send a revised query letter to different magazine or website. If you want to be a successful freelance writer, don’t let your “old” ideas go to waste! Keep cycling them through, and sooner or later an editor will assign you the article.

Work your way through the Writer’s Market

When I was freelancing for magazines, I methodically worked my way through both the Writer’s Market and The American Directory of Writer’s Guidelines: More than 1,700 Magazine Editors and Book Publishers Explain What They are Looking for from Freelancers. My goal was to contact at least 50 magazine editors and publishers in a year, and those two books helped me achieve that goal — and make money as a freelance writer.

What are your smart freelance writing goals? Whether you want to get published in poetry magazines or support yourself as a freelance writer — write your goals down and post them where you can see them all the time.

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If you have any thoughts or questions on your publication goals, please comment below…

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5 thoughts on “Examples of SMART Goals for Writers

  • Laurie Post author

    I’m no longer sure money is a “good” goal for writers. Chasing the almighty dollar isn’t as fulfilling or smart as pursing your passions, and learning as much as you can about the business of writing or blogging.

    That said, however, I do believe writers need some sort of goal to pursue!

  • mee_va

    Thanks a lot. This article has been most helpful. I’d been nursing the idea of blogging for some time now and this article and many others from Laurie’s site have been most informative.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Thanks for your comments! The most important goal for getting published is to write your goals down. I can’t believe how effective it is — just looking at your goals increases your motivation and success.


    For the last two years i am whole heartedly pursuing my passion of writing. Of course my goal is to share my thoughts,feelings,observations,reflections and experiences with others. My writings are based on the above parameters.I am waiting for a break.

    My blog: youandi-uppal.blogspot.com

    The latest post: Why I Love a Morning Walk

  • Rebecca

    These are very helpful writing goals!

    Writers may want to set goals for personal projects such as completing a book, eBook, or screenplay by a certain date. They can also set a goal to obtain a certain number of new clients by the end of the year.